“If your child goes to a school that uses TERC Investigations, you should understand that it means your child's school has abdicated its responsibility to teach your child mathematics. By doing so, the responsibility now rests with the parents. Good luck."
~ Dr. W. Stephen Wilson, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University math professor, in Baltimore testified against TERC at the June 11, 2008 Board of Education Meeting.
In February, the Fairfield’s Board of Education will vote on a new elementary math program. This program will begin in Kindergarten through 2nd grade and then expand through 5th grade. [In May, they will vote on curriculum and textbooks for 6th through 10th grade math.] Parents in the district need to consider how responsible their elected officials and curriculum leaders have been toward their children.
While most people think elementary school math is about teaching 1 + 1 = 2 and 5 x 5 = 25, elementary school math, in fact, forms the foundation, the brick and mortar, for all learning that takes place in middle and high school -- most importantly, algebra. Research shows that students who complete two years of algebra are two times more likely to graduate from college (National Mathematics Advisory Panel PDF NMP page 13).
What should children learn in elementary school in order to prepare for algebra?
The March 2008 Final Report of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMP 2008) clearly identifies the "Critical Foundations for Algebra." as understanding key concepts, attaining automaticity as appropriate (e.g., with addition and related subtraction facts), developing flexible, accurate, and automatic execution of the standard algorithms, and using these competencies to solve problems (NMP PDF pages 17 and 50).
We strongly object to two of the four textbooks currently being considered: TERC Investigations and Origo Stepping Stones. Don’t take our word for it, here is what math professors have to say about Terc:
- R. James Milgram, Professor of Mathematics, Stanford University; “My personal view is that TERC is the second most mathematically illiterate and damaging program I have ever seen… it was one of the main reasons I got involved in the issues of mathematics education.”
- Wilfried Schmid, Ph.D. in Mathematics at Harvard states, "By the end of fifth grade, TERC students have fallen roughly two years behind where they should be." Read more reviews here.
- Bill Quirk, Ph.D. in Mathematics observed, "TERC is totally out of sync with the National Math Panel Recommendations. Furthermore, TERC 2008 Math fails to provide the foundations of algebra." Read the full analysis here.
- Thomas Parker, Ph.D in Mathematics at Michigan State University, "TERC students will hit a wall, probably at the end of middle school. They are not being given the grounding needed to understand the abstractions of high school algebra and geometry. THEIR OPTIONS FOR CAREERS IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING ARE BEING CLOSED OFF BY THEIR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROGRAM." His summary of concerns is here.
- Dr. W. Stephen Wilson, mathematics professor at the Johns Hopkins University, testified against TERC. Click here for full testimony .pdf file
- TERC has no interest in giving classroom time to standard arithmetic, and avoids the concepts of carrying, borrowing, and common denominators, and allows calculators in the elementary grades. Watch the video to see TERC in action: Math: An Inconvenient Truth
Despite Pearson Scott Foresman stating its "success stories" for TERC Investigations in a 2007 Publication, 58 percent of the districts have discontinued use or are in the process of discontinuing the use of TERC Investigations (according to an Independent Research & Analysis based on the Survey of School Districts Profiled in Pearson Scott Foresman (Data as of February 24, 2009)
The second resource under consideration is Origo Math, an Australian math program, and their “Stepping Stones” textbook. To date, we have found very little information other than the publishing company’s own information. We noticed that this program relies on mental math but does not develop proficiency and fluency of standard algorithms.
The Two Remaining Books Under Consideration
Singapore Math’s “Primary Mathematics” Series is the curriculum developed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education that moved Singapore to the top in global math assessments and to where it remains today. It is currently used by many top performing districts in the United States as well as those with demographics similar to Fairfield.
Singapore math “Math in Focus” is a more recent adaption of the Singapore Framework by US publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It is currently being implemented by eight public schools, including Weston, New Haven and Bridgeport.
We Believe in Singapore Math
After incredible amounts of research and discussions with other districts around the country, we believe that Singapore Math, Primary Mathematics, is the best performing program for providing a strong math foundation and preparing students for algebra. It is what our students deserve.
What Parents Should Do: Get Informed – Get Involved - Sign Petition
Make a point to understand the process and the choices available to your child before the vote. Demand due diligence and transparency from Central Office, the Board of Education and our curriculum leaders. Email Board of Education Representatives, Central Office administrators and other parents. Discuss the issue at your PTA Meetings. Comment on this article. To learn more and sign our petition, visit our website.